Man arrested after bicyclist is killed in hit-and-run in Highland Park

Los Angeles police arrested the driver who allegedly hit and killed a bicyclist in Highland Park early Friday, authorities said.

“A citizen came out and identified this individual,” said LAPD Officer Jack Richter.

The collision occurred about 3 a.m. as the bicyclist crossed in a marked crosswalk at North Figueroa Street and Marmion Way, police said. Investigators told KTLA the driver appeared to be speeding faster than 80 mph when he hit the man on his bike.

The victim was dragged more than 400 feet down the road, authorities said.

Within hours police had put out a call for help from the public -- anyone who had seen a dark-colored sedan with major front-end damage, including a missing bumper, was urged to call authorities.

A tip came in that led to an arrest, Richter said. Officials plan to provide more details on the investigation at an afternoon news conference.

The county coroner said the victim was a 33-year-old man. His identity would be released after his family was notified.

The crash occurred on a stretch of Figueroa that city officials had considered adding bike lanes to for years until last summer, when Councilman Gil Cedillo announced he was stopping the project because of concerns over losing a single vehicle lane.

Cedillo was concerned that change would affect response times for emergency vehicles -- a longtime issue in Los Angeles.

On Figueroa, a Times review of accident data between 2002 and 2012 found 68 car-versus-bicycle collisions between Avenue 26 and York Boulevard — three of them resulting in severe injuries. The data show 153 events took place between cars and pedestrians during the same period, including nine that resulted in death.

The incident highlights a hit-and-run trend that’s emerged in Los Angeles.

Hit-and-run collisions involving bicyclists surged 42% from 2002 to 2012 in Los Angeles County, according to a Times analysis of California Highway Patrol crash data.

The increase came as the overall number of hit-and-runs involving cars, cyclists and pedestrians dropped by 30%. Between 2002 and 2012, the most recent data available, more than 5,600 cyclists were injured and at least 36 died in crashes in which drivers fled the scene.

Councilman Joe Buscaino, who pushed for the city to offer rewards to help catch hit-and-run drivers, called the trend an "epidemic."

“I am sickened by the deadly hit-and-run this morning in Highland Park and want to remind the media and all residents that there is a standing reward for all hit-and-run crimes in Los Angeles,” the councilman said. "Our city has an epidemic of hit-and-runs and the only way we can change this is to speak up.”

The Los Angeles Police Department closed one in five hit-and-runs from 2008 to 2012, according to data the department reported last year to the Board of Police Commissioners. Less than half those cases were closed through an arrest.

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Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

2:08 p.m.: This story has been updated with background on bike lanes and accident data.

12:31 p.m.: This story has been updated to report that a suspect has been arrested and add new details.

This story was first published at 7:38 a.m.

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